Tired of the unreasonable costs of flying? Discount airlines are certainly tempting, but they have their limitations- which often cost you more money in the long run.
In Europe, discount airlines are the way to go – and they’re picking up speed in the US, too. Thanks to RyanAir, EasyJet, and many other airlines, it’s easy to find a hop flight for about $50-250 between nearly any destinations in Europe. If you know the ins and outs of flying budget airlines, you can take advantage of some great deals, saving you time AND money.
Want to know how to avoid hidden costs and keep your discount fares as low as possible? Keep reading for the low down on low-cost flights.
1. Look at your flight options long before you actually take your trip.
Start with a search for “cheap flights” and the cities you’re interested in flying to and from. Use those searches to determine if low-cost flights are an option. Then compare that initial cost with trains, buses, and car rentals. Doing this at the last minute can get really expensive- like any other airline.
2. You WILL be nickel-and-dimed – make sure you look into ALL additional fees.
With every click, your fees will add up. Be ready to pay extra for using a credit card (even when there is no cash option), choosing your seat, checking in and printing your boarding pass at the airport instead of online, and priority boarding- among others.
3. You will be attacked with ads, promotions, and attempts to make you spend more money.
Want something to drink on a flight? That will cost you. Want to buy a lottery ticket? It’s there too- for a cost. Even when you’re booking your ticket, you’ll see ads the whole way. Prepare for this and keep your money tight. Buy your food and drinks before you get on your plane (pack a lunch if you can) and don’t spend extra money on the things you don’t need. Chances are that whatever you need will be cheaper before or after you get on the plane- and even cheaper outside of the airport.
4. Pay attention to which airports you’re using.
Keep in mind that Newark, NJ is considered a New York City airport, just as RyanAir’s “Frankfurt” airport is actually in Hahn, 75 miles away from the city. These secondary airports are less expensive than primary metropolitan airports, so they save airlines money- but might cost you more to actually get into your destination city.
5. Baggage fees CAN and WILL add up.
Here’s one big reason why you need to stop packing like a tourist, even if you are one. As someone who got stuck paying exorbitant fees on a discount flight from Glasgow to Dublin, trust me- learn the rules ahead of time and have a plan.
Low-cost airlines have weight limits on everything, including your carry-on. If your carry-on bag is over the weight limit, you’ll pay extra. And sometimes that limit can be just 22 pounds.
Think you’ll save money by buying a second checked bag? Read the fine print! For some airlines, you can add another bag- but you don’t get any extra weight. $20 per extra kilo over their limit gets very expensive VERY quickly.
Have you used a budget airline- in the US or abroad? What advice do you have to share with someone who is about to? Would you do it again?